Aldridge: How much better is your team since its season ended? Here’s how I rank them
13. MILWAUKEE BUCKS
2018-19 RECORD: 60-22, lost in Eastern Conference finals.
ADDED: C Robin Lopez (two years, $9.7M); G Wes Matthews (two years, $5.2M); G Kyle Korver (one year, $2.6M); F Dragan Bender (two years, $3.5M); F Thanasis Antetokounmpo (two years, $3.1M); F Jon Leuer (acquired from Detroit); G Kevin Porter (first round, 30th pick overall); 2020 first-round pick (protected 1-14 through 2025; unprotected in 2026; acquired from Indiana); 2021 second-round pick (to be acquired from Indiana a year after Indiana completes its trade with Brooklyn); 2025 second-round pick (acquired from Indiana).
LOST: G Malcolm Brogdon (signed with Indiana); F Nikola Mirotic (signed with F.C. Barcelona); F Tony Snell (traded to Detroit); G Tim Frazier (signed with Detroit); F Bonzie Colson (waived); 2020 first-round pick (protected 1-7 in 2020, then unprotected in 2021; traded to Boston).
RETAINED: G Khris Middleton (five years, $177.5M); C Brook Lopez (four years, $52M); G George Hill (three years, $27.8M).
THE KEY MAN: Giannis Antetokounmpo. What, you thought I was going to say Eric Bledsoe? The league MVP was a Hulk at both ends of the floor in leading Milwaukee to 60 regular season wins. But the expectations will be even higher for the 24-year-old superstar this season. With Kawhi Leonard gone from Toronto, the East is wide open, and the Greek Freak is the best player in the conference, if not the league.
Everyone tried to build a wall in front of him all season, but the Raptors succeeded in the Eastern finals, holding him below 45 percent shooting from the floor. The Klaw had a lot to do with that, of course, but other teams will try it again in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo will have to do better both behind the arc (.327 in the playoffs last season) and from the line; even though he got to the line more than 11 times a game in the postseason, he didn’t make opponents pay, shooting just 63 percent.
THE SKINNY: I am Team Bucks going forward just for the Lopez Brothers alone. They should provide nightly entertainment on and off the floor playing together for the first time since they were at Stanford. There is also the older Antetokounmpo brother, who won hardware of some importance this past season, returning to terrorize the rest of the NBA. This is not to discount the impact of losing Brogdon, and especially to their Central rival Pacers. His absence will be felt. But Milwaukee kept its losses to a minimum through roster maneuvering last season that allowed the Bucks to comfortably stretch this summer to re-sign Middleton and Brook Lopez.
When you’re an elite team you can’t keep all of your good players. Vets like Korver and Matthews will help win their share of games, further extending a bench already full of talented role players like Sterling Brown and Pat Connaughton. GM Jon Horst is to be commended for good planning and good execution to keep the train rolling in Brew Town.